I made the quick journey up to 32 Nassau Street to the APPRISE office on January 11. Inside, I was greeted by staff members who graciously provided bagels for us. APPRISE is a nonprofit research institute that collects and analyzes data and information to assess and improve public programs. Throughout the day, I shadowed seven of the Policy Analysts, and each one discussed projects and showed me what they did on a daily basis.
Surveys are one of many research activities that APPRISE performs to obtain data and information used to assess public programs. Dan, one of the Policy Analysts, was working on a survey for the NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority). He explained that part of APPRISE’s job is to edit the surveys to make sure that the respondent understands the questions and can provide accurate responses. Another task is to test the computerized version of the survey instrument to ensure that it works correctly. For example, often questions will be skipped based on the response to other questions, and this task ensures that these skips work correctly. After they ensure that the skip patterns function correctly, they send the surveys to a call center. APPRISE uses a number of call centers, and they often travel to their headquarters to train employees who will administer the surveys. In the beginning of each survey, they also listen in and take notes to see whether or not the call center employee is doing a good job. Once the surveys are complete, APPRISE will either analyze the data and assess what implications the survey results have for program improvement, or send the survey data to the client so that they can analyze it themselves. One of APPRISE’s biggest projects right now is the evaluation of the National Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which I heard a lot about from many of the Policy Analysts. There are many different research tasks that comprise this evaluation, including surveys, impact analysis, and on-site observation and data collection.
My day at APPRISE was a great learning experience, and I really got a feel for what it’s like to work in a nonprofit setting. The office was very open and informal, which was great – they even had a small party at the end with cake because one of the Policy Analysts was leaving for a new job. My experience at APPRISE definitely showed me that I would be interested in doing this kind of work someday, and I would recommend this Princeternship to anyone interested in nonprofit work, energy efficiency, or data analysis in general.